Surfer statue in the sunset
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
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Inside Lookout: Upcoming food newsletter, Unsung Santa Cruz, & welcoming interns

Unsung is a particularly poignant word, given our two years of stress and quiet heroism.

Last month, we were glad to offer a series of stories on “Unsung Santa Cruz,” aiming to provide long-overdue recognition to just a few of the people who have gotten us through the nightmares of this decade. We featured 12 people — including a woman who sings to the dying, a volunteer firefighter who lost her childhood home in the CZU fire while saving those of her neighbors and a Watsonville man known simply as “Mr. Volunteer”. You told us those stories struck a chord — and that you’d like to see more of them brought to light.

Unsung Santa Cruz

Kudos to our whole newsroom team for their work on this well-received project.

For 2022, we’ve heard you and we’re adding “Unsung Santa Cruz” as a regular feature. We’re looking for your nominations of those under-the-radar difference-makers who help make Santa Cruz County the unique and special place that it is. Please send your nominations — with as many details as possible — to

Home and Homeless have a new meaning in 2022

If we take our minds off the omnipresent pandemic for a moment, the ever-presence of homelessness in Santa Cruz, and in so many communities along the West Coast, commands our attention. The older among us recall being taught the terrible stories of the Dust Bowl, the photographs of the unimaginable lines of by-the-road makeshift encampments. We could never imagine that they would repeat in the so-far supremely odd 2020s -- and that we would drive by them, consumed for a few seconds by pity and wonder, before we drive on. Yet, that’s where we’re at.

Wallace Baine
Wallace Baine, Lookout’s City Life Correspondent

At Lookout Santa Cruz, in 2022, we are trying to go far deeper and wider in our understanding of what is a complex set of issues. On Sunday, Wallace Baine’s column commanded our attention. As he relates his own brief period of “homelessness” and connects us to the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., we may begin to find new inspiration for confronting what lies before our eyes.

In the weeks ahead, we are preparing a series of pieces exploring the issues surrounding homelessness in our region. In the coming days, look for our Unhoused Santa Cruz primer — exploring the recent history of the issue in the county, what is happening presently and, most importantly, beginning to answer why this defining aspect of our collective home seems so intractable. As we get closer to the Point-In-Time Count in late February — the census of people experiencing homelessness — we’ll be doing a deeper dive on the impact and reasoning behind it, as well as a close chronicling of the count itself.

Your generosity

Has there ever been a time to summon up more generosity? Lookout covers the growing needs of our community, shining a light on the dislocations that COVID has driven or worsened. From our launch in November, 2020, we set out to build our own generosity into Lookout. Each new member signing up for Lookout picks one top community non-profit, and Lookout directs 10% of what you pay to that community betterment organization. We can now report that through the end of 2021, we’ve paid out $11,549.49, a total we’re proud of, especially given our start-up status.

That program continues into 2022. If you haven’t yet become a member, please join us and pick the organization of your choice. We’re proud to call Coastal Watershed Council, Community Foundation, Digital Nest, Second Harvest Food Bank, United Way and Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County our Civic Partners in this program.

Speaking of generosity, a shout-out to all of you who responded to our Accelerate program marketing partners – Bird School Project, Community Bridges, Habitat for Humanity, Housing Matters, The MAH, Santa Cruz Mountain Trail Stewardship, and Senderos. Each of these top community organizations asked for your help during the holiday season, and they report that you opened your wallets at this critical time.

More Lily!

We never know what samples Lily may bring into the Lookout offices next. The latest brews from one of our many artisanal brewers? Some delectable pastry? Kombucha – with just a touch of alcohol? In the first few months that Lily Belli has joined Lookout as our food maven, she has made her impact clear, in the newsroom and in the community. She’s the rare food writer who can tell all of you who’s opening, closing and transforming in the restaurant business – and cares about the many issues impacting South County agriculture. Food frivolity meets food security in her work. And that, of course, fits Santa Cruz County perfectly. We care about real-life issues – and would like to have our taste buds nurtured organically and kept as local as possible.

Lily Belli, Lookout's Food & Drink Correspondent

Now, we’re glad to tell you that Lily is adding to her Lookout repertoire. Within the next couple of weeks, the Lily Belli On Food newsletter will debut. You’ll receive it each and every Tuesday. In her newsletter, Lily will give you the insider view on what’s happening in local food, preview what’s coming, remind you what you may have missed, and she may even include the food adventures of Marco, Lily’s 9-month-old son, plus some surprises. The Tuesday Lily Belli On Food newsletter joins her Friday’s Eater’s Digest, aimed more at the weekend ahead.

Lily’s newsletter joins our Morning Lookout, Lookout PM, the weekly BOLO Best Bets and Sunday Reads lineup. Overall, almost 20,000 of you now receive Lookout’s newsletters, and you tell us they provide a convenient way to remind you to click through to the news and info you want.

Know a friend who should get our newsletters, but hasn’t yet? Send them this link:

And if you haven’t signed up for our text alerts – the fastest way to stay in the know — do that here. This is how you get news like Saturday’s harbor flooding, due to the terrible Tonga volcano eruption, ahead of everyone else. We take public safety seriously here. As seen in rapid dispatches and video — ably reported by our Mark Conley, Dan Evans and Kevin Painchaud — our readers could see what was happening in essentially real-time. At Lookout, we try to not only inform, but provide the essential details to keep you and your family safe.

Check out our updated IG channel

Newsletters are just one way we deliver the news to you. Another is Instagram, which we’ve been reimagining for the new year. If you haven’t checked out our updated feed, see it here.

Giovanni Moujaes, our director of audience engagement, has made it more informative and more elegant. Follow us there and on Facebook @lookoutsantacruz, and on Twitter @lookoutSCruz.

Welcome Lookout’s interns

Rebuilding local journalism means bringing today’s students directly into it.

Already, in a year-plus, Lookout has hosted a half-dozen interns, mainly from UCSC and Cabrillo. You’ve seen some of their work on our pages.

Christian Abraham
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

As we enter this year, Christian Abraham, whom we mentioned in the fall, continues to excel. He works most directly with Ashley Holmes, our director of sales and marketing, and has been increasingly instrumental in supporting Lookout’s partnership efforts and helping create meaningful business connections with the local Santa Cruz community. His organized and caring nature has made him a pleasure to work with, and he looks to get more involved in our future in-real-life events, as they return. In his spare time, he’s a UCSC student majoring in Film and Digital Media with an interest and experience in social media marketing.

Aidan Warzecha-Watson

Santa Cruz native, athlete and current Cabrillo College student Aidan Warzecha-Watson has just joined us. Aidan’s passion for business and marketing provides a great jumping-off point for his Lookout focus on social media, marketing and communication, including that newly upgraded Instagram channel. Outside of Lookout and his coursework, you may find Aidan shooting some hoops at a local basketball court.

Lara Medina
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Lara Aguirre-Medina brings her start-up learning spirit to Lookout at a great time. She’s a UC Santa Cruz student double majoring in Economics as well as Film & Digital Media. Her internship focus is on Student Engagement and sharing our Student Access initiative with the UC Santa Cruz community. Her passion for community building is contagious, and she is excited to connect her fellow students to the larger Santa Cruz community.

A number of you have asked about that initiative. Director of Student Engagement Jamie Keil greeted the new year with an expanded reach-out to both Cabrillo and UCSC students, all of whom get free access to Lookout, through the generosity — our recurring theme today — of donors. Even amid COVID restrictions, we thank the leaders of Cowell and Merrill colleges at UCSC for stepping forward to get the word out about the program over the next several weeks. If you are a student, faculty member or administrator and want to know how students can easily sign up, please ping Jamie.

And if you want to help fund our extension of the program to all the high school students in the county, let her know as well. All donations are welcome.

Resource center for the students of Santa Cruz County